TECHNOLOGY developed by a Sawtry company could hold the key to removing the irritants that trigger acute chest problems, and may also be useful in helping to control airborne infections in hospitals. But the primary market for Air Pollution Products and Systems' Airborne 10 products is the agricultural sector, such as chicken and pig farms and even thoroughbred racing stables. The company last week scooped the innovation in sustainability prize at the final of the Lord Stafford Awards, which seek to encourage closer links between universities and business, for a new atomiser innovation that improves the operational efficiency and range of the system, developed in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Lord Stafford, awards patron and chairman of the judges, said: "APPS is a fantastic example of a company that has collaborated with a university to overcome a technical problem that threatened to hold up their progress. "I know this device is already helping to overcome challenges with air pollution and shows that technology can be the solution to the environmental issues industries face." Airborne 10 works with a combination of very tiny water droplets and APPS's "ingredient X", which can scrub even the tiniest molecules from the air, explained the company's founder and chairman, industrial chemist Jim Edgar. "It's not magic. It's pure science," he told The Hunts Post. "Instead of putting the air into a washer, we put the washer into the air. As the tiny 'sponges' become heavier because they are dirtier, they sink to the ground where, waiting for them, is a host of natural bacteria present in the ground." The company, formed in 1999 and employing 16 people, started by dealing with sewerage odours and other obnoxious smells and moved into farming. The system is particularly effective in chicken farms, where clean air can cut mortality by up to 90 per cent and substantially reduce veterinary bills, Mr Edgar said. Although APPS is now developing mass-production facilities for what has until now been hand-built for industrial clients, it has also become involved in clinical trials to help human health. Free cans of the system given to the Royal Asthma Society suggested its was effective in helping stave off the effects of acute respiratory conditions by cleaning the air sufferers breathed, and a clinical trial is now under way. Also about to be undertaken, Mr Edgar added, is a hospital trial to determine whether it can contribute to reducing the incidence of infections such as MRSA and clostridium difficile.